The scientific tourist #45 — a visit to the fishmonger's

You might recall that one of the first “scientific tourist” posts I wrote was about the ruins of a town in Italy called Ostia Antica, on the outskirts of present-day Rome. Today we’ll go back to look at what’s left of a fishmonger’s stall:

Fishmonger's stall

Mosaic flooring was quite popular in the Roman Empire — if only because carpet hadn’t been invented yet, so this was a contemporary way of dressing up the place. But the nice mosaic tile on the floor here served more than just a decorative function. It also functioned as advertising for the vendor that set up shop here — and as is usually the case with advertising, the flashier, the better.

This stall was just one of many in what was essentially the commercial heart of Ostia. From what I could see, this is also one of the best-preserved stall floors, thanks in no small part to some serious restoration work. Those short brick cylinders in the background were the bases of columns that held up the roof, while the brick wall behind them was the wall of the shopkeepers’ area. It’s not difficult with a bit of imagination to picture this stall back in its heyday…

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